Too early to speak about real intention to rename Kazakhstan

Photo: Too early to speak about real intention to rename Kazakhstan / Kazakhstan

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 10

By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

It is premature to affirm that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has an intention to rename Kazakhstan, researcher at CIDOB in Spain Nicolas de Pedro believes.

"I think it is too early to assume that Nazarbayev has the intention to change the name of the country. For now it is a mere trial balloon sent out to public debate during a meeting with a small group of intellectuals and it seems clear that Nazarbayev wants to gauge general public reactions," de Pedro told Trend.

Earlier at the meetings with representatives of the public in the city of Atyrau, Kazakh President proposed considering the possibility of changing the country's official name to "Kazakh Eli" ("Country of Kazakhs" or "Kazakh people").

"There is 'stan' in the end of the name of our country as in other Central Asian countries," the president said. "Meanwhile the foreigners are showing interest in Mongolia... which has no 'stan' in the end of is name. We must consider such a name as "Kazakh eli". But we must discuss this with the Kazakh people."

Meanwhile the Kazakh Government might think, as Nazarbayev has stated, that it would be beneficial for the country to have a clearly separated identity as Mongolia for instance has and not to be closely linked in the international perception to the thorny and conflict-prone "stan-region" -meaning Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc, de Pedro said.

If such an initiative is implemented, the main and immediate impact of changing the name of the country will be in the domestic domain, he believes.

"To play the ethnic card might alienate and irritate minorities, particularly, the Russian and Slavic communities. And this might entail risks in the mid-to-long term for the country and its citizens, and more considering that very likely Kazakh nationalism will play a significant role in the post-Nazarbayev Kazakhstan," the expert said.

In general, indirectly and clearly unintended Nazarbayev's proposal is an evidence that the nation-building process in Kazakhstan -and the own country's identity- is yet a pending and a highly-sensitive unresolved issue, according to de Pedro.

The very initial reaction concerning the proposal seems positive, at least according to the comments published on Twitter, he said.

Meanwhile, de Pedro believes that the proposal on the country's renaming sounds weird considering the tons of money spent by the Government and the achievements in promoting Kazakhstan and Astana as world-wide known brands.

Edited by CN

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